Rizzo volunteering at surfing museum

The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum holds a treasure trove of surfing's history and is the hangout for some of its legends, but for the last couple of days, it was the haunt of someone more notorious.

Disgraced ex-Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, 56, has been volunteering his services as a security guard for the museum's miniature parking lot at Olive Avenue and Fifth Street.

"We told him any day he wants to do it, we're here," said Gary Sahagen, the museum's director at large. "We definitely need as much help as we can get."

Rizzo was at the center of a scandal that rocked the city of Bell and the nation when the Los Angeles Times uncovered that city employees were making exorbitant salaries. Rizzo was pulling in about $800,000 a year in the cash-strapped city in Los Angeles County.

The Huntington Beach resident could be seen Wednesday afternoon in sunglasses, a navy bucket hat and an M.P.P. Bodyguards Security jacket sitting with his arms crossed in front of the museum's colorful surfing mural in the parking lot.

Rizzo was barely recognizable in his get-up, but the now infamous ex-city official didn't go unrecognized, Sahagen said.

Rizzo called the museum last week to offer his services and has been monitoring the parking lot as a security guard since Thursday, Sahagen said.

Rizzo declined to comment on why he was volunteering or answer any other questions Wednesday afternoon.

He was sentenced in August to 10 days of community service after pleading guilty to driving with a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit.

Sahagen wasn't sure exactly how many hours Rizzo has volunteered with the museum, but estimated he has done about five hours a day since he started, putting him at about 20 hours.

The museum is completely run by volunteers and is understaffed, Sahagen said. Staff members were "lucky" to have someone volunteer to do parking lot security, he said.

"He's come up with some good ideas and implemented them — he's a self-starter," Sahagen said. "He's got a head on his shoulders."

Rizzo has come up with a solution for the museum's parking lot problem, he said. The museum had issues safeguarding its five parking spaces for museum patrons, but Rizzo came up with the solution of blocking the stalls with orange cones, Sahagen said.

When patrons come to the museum, Rizzo moved the cone out of the way or reminded drivers that the parking lot is only for museum business in a nice, nonthreatening tone, he said.

"People say he's doing a great job," he said.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World